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11 things you need to know about the Government’s Measles-Rubella vaccination drive

The aim of this campaign is to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age by 2030 due to infections like measles and rubella.

Written by Debjani Arora |Published : August 17, 2018 1:35 PM IST

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoH & FW) with support from WHO and UNICEF has initiated measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign in the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years in a phased manner across the nation. MR Vaccine will become part of the routine immunization after successful completion of the MR Campaign. The first phase of measles-rubella vaccination campaign was launched in February 2017 in five states, namely, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Lakshadweep and Puducherry where more than 3.3 crore children were vaccinated, reaching out to 97% of the intended age group. The campaign was carried out in schools, community centres and health facilities.

The second phase was rolled out from August 2017 in 8 states and Union Territories. The states included Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana and Uttarakhand aiming to cover 3.4 crore children. Recently the campaign was launched in Jammu too to ensure kids could benefit from this vaccination.

Measles and rubella are highly contagious but preventable viral diseases. The shocking fact is one-third of all measles-related deaths worldwide occur in India. Every year in India nearly 2.7 million children get measles. Those who survive, suffer from serious complications including diarrhoea, pneumonia and malnutrition. Rubella transmission is also highly prevalent across India. Moreover, a rubella infection during pregnancy can cause abortion, stillbirth and may lead to multiple birth defects in the newborn; like blindness, deafness, heart defects; known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). India accounts for around one-third of all children born worldwide with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). This is why this vaccination becomes even more crucial.

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Here are a few things that you need to know about the governments' measles-rubella vaccination program:

1. The purpose of the Measles-Rubella campaign is to protect children and eliminate transmission of measles and rubella from the country by vaccinating 100% target children with MR vaccine.

2. Measles-Rubella vaccination campaign is a special campaign conducted to vaccinate all children of 9 months to less than 15 years of age with one additional dose of MR vaccine. This additional campaign dose will boost the immunity of child and protect the entire community by eliminating transmission of measles and rubella.

3. The vaccine being given in the Measles-Rubella campaign is produced in India and is WHO prequalified. The same vaccine is being given in the routine immunisation programme of India and in many countries, including neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar.

4. Private practitioners in India have been giving Measles-Rubella or measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine to the children for many years. The Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) endorses the strategy of measles-rubella vaccination, though.

5. All eligible children will be vaccinated at the following session sites: schools, health sub-centres, anganwadi centres, fixed outreach sessions and mobile/special posts in villages and urban areas, government health facilities will vaccinate on all days of campaign. States would conduct these MR vaccination campaigns in a phased manner.

6. Both girls and boys are at an equal risk of getting infected as well as transmitting the rubella virus, if not already protected against the disease. Therefore, both boys and girls need to take measles-rubella vaccine in routine immunization as well as during measles-rubella vaccination campaign.

7. All children who have completed 9 months of age and are below 15 years of age should be administered and additional MR dose during campaign irrespective of if they have already taken the dose at the paediatrician's clinic.

8. Malnourished children should be vaccinated on a priority basis, as they are more likely to have complications like diarrhoea and pneumonia. Children with minor illnesses such as mild respiratory infection, diarrhoea, and low grade fever can be vaccinated

9. The MR vaccine being used in the campaign is completely safe. Like with any other injectable vaccine, there could be a transient mild pain and redness at the injection site, low-grade fever, rash and muscle aches. The vaccine is not known to cause any other adverse side effects. However, all immunization sessions whether in schools or outreach are linked to fully equipped health centres to handle any adverse event.

10. The MR vaccine is diluted with the accompanying diluent and is administered by subcutaneous injection on the arm of the child.

11. A new auto disable syringe with needle is used for each child. The syringe and needle are destroyed after single use and a new one used for the next child.

The aim of this campaign is to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age by 2030 due to infections like measles and rubella.

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